Travel is an inherently personal experience. Whether it’s a student looking to explore a new culture or a business person that really needs to get to a meeting, the experience should be tailored to our individual needs. The industry realises this and delivering personalised experiences has been an important ambition for more than a decade. Yet even the trip planning process shows that travel remains a largely fragmented process. We’ve all been there: entering your dates, destination and preferences into multiple online travel agencies, airline websites and various aggregators.
Holidays should give you the chance to put your feet up, but organising a trip is often a frustrating experience
Part of the issue is the complex web of IT systems that, just like other industries, have grown to support travel. Air travel was arguably a technology leader, making it possible to search and book a flight from any airline via travel agents as far back as the 1970s. However, the industry is still grappling with how to offer the traveller a truly personal experience based on their unique preferences. For example, what type of seat should this person have? Do they like to be next to the window? Are they likely to need a transfer from the airport? If so, where to?
Travel providers are operating with a significant lack of context in most cases. Many companies in the sector are now collecting the data and insights needed to be able to personalise experiences, but it’s a daunting prospect and each provider or intermediary is only going to get so far. Not to mention the issues that come with businesses collecting large amounts of personal data. We believe travel could be improved if we flip this situation on its head.
Using autonomous agents to give travellers what they actually want
Rather than each company in the ecosystem collecting the data needed for hyper-personalisation, and making a series of inferred guesses, couldn’t we let the traveller tell us based on each specific trip they plan to take? It seems strange we need the Web 2.0 companies to lure us with targeted ads where we enter a sales funnel that requires us to enter our requirements. Instead we could specify our detailed requirements clearly at the outset and have various providers try to cater to our needs. Well, we could if that process was better automated and if that automation had clear insight into our very specific needs.
We believe a new system such as Fetch.AI, that’s able to understand the full context behind a trip, could fundamentally change how value flows whilst delivering a much improved experience. An Autonomous Economic Agent running on Fetch.AI’s network can be thought of just like a human travel agent that you’ve been consulting with for years. It knows the broad purpose and timing of your trip, it learns the type of seat you like, whether you usually reserve a place in the airport lounge and the type of food you typically prefer. However, this intelligence remains sovereign to you, the individual, and aspects of it are used by the agent to communicate and negotiate with airlines, hotels, railways and taxi firms to plan the perfect trip.
In a Fetch.AI powered ecosystem, a hotel could develop artificially intelligent autonomous agents that engage with and offer unique experiences to the traveller’s own agent. When an individual begins planning a trip, the agent representing them could engage with and negotiate with agents from hundreds of businesses around the globe, providing different services needed over the course of the trip. This could involve flight tickets, hotel bookings, cabs and associated services. The agent, with the user’s permission, will be capable of providing preferences and the context of the trip that the hotel and other travel providers need to present the ideal offer. The agent gathers this data and insight from emails, calendars, past preferences (all places we don’t want third-party firms looking) and then negotiates with third party agents.
In the future, discovery, price negotiation, booking and payment involving service providers like airlines may not need to involve third parties in the way it does today. Rather, if autonomous agents representing travel providers can effectively connect with agents representing travellers, then they can work tirelessly to calculate the ideal trip for that individual. This will make the resulting experience not only more personal, but also cheaper. Costs can be expected to fall as the services of several intermediaries (such as online travel agencies, Web 2.0 advertising giants and travel aggregators) are no longer required.
Similarly, by having agents perform these tasks at scale, travel businesses would be able to leverage automated systems that funnel users to them, maintain inventory and settle payments with greater levels of automation than is possible today.
Autonomous agents connected to the Fetch.AI network introduce numerous opportunities. In the future, companies will possess a level of contextual understanding about people’s trips. This simply could not be achieved today due to the existing separation of data in corporate silos. Why should it be so difficult to plan a trip? At Fetch.AI we believe there’s an alternative approach that benefits both industry and travellers alike.